commonwealth

Kentucky: Cannabis Freedom Act Filed To Legalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

State Senator Perry B. Clark of Louisville on Friday said he has pre-filed the Cannabis Freedom Act, which would legalize and regulate the use of marijuana in Kentucky similarly to alcohol.

The bill would repeal the Commonwealth's current prohibition on cannabis cultivation, possession and sales, according to a press release from Senator Clark, reports Lex18.com.

Clark said the bill would replace prohibition with a framework that would "promote public safety and responsible cannabis consumption by persons over 21 years of age."

"No one has adequately answered the question as to why cannabis is illegal," Sen. Clark said. "We were sold a bill of goods. We were bamboozled.

"It is abundantly clear to me that cannabis, while being much less harmful, should be treated the same as alcohol," said Sen. Clark. "The Cannabis Freedom Act is an outline on how to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older in Kentucky. It is time for this discussion in our Commonwealth."

"Few believe that anyone should be incarcerated where the cannabis plant is involved," Clark said. "Most of my life we have expended tax dollars pursuing a ban on a plant. Wasted dollars they were.

Massachusetts: Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Submits Final Petition Signatures

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Tuesday wrapped up its petition drive in support of a proposed ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts.

Campaign leaders submitted their final petition signatures to the Elections Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, which is located in the McCormack Building in Boston.

The campaign has collected more than 103,000 total signatures, and 64,750 valid signatures of registered state voters are required to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

“This is direct democracy in action,” said campaign manager Will Luzier. “People can see that our current prohibition policy isn’t working, and they’re taking action to replace it with a more sensible system. Based on the level of support and enthusiasm we saw during the petition drive, voters are ready to end prohibition and start treating marijuana more like how our state treats alcohol.”

“Massachusetts is another step closer to ending marijuana prohibition and replacing it with a more sensible policy,” said Luzier. “People are fed up with laws that punish adults simply for consuming a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.”

“Next year, voters will have the opportunity to end the failed policy of prohibition and replace it with a more sensible system,” said Luzier, a former assistant attorney general who previously served as executive director of the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention. “Marijuana is significantly less harmful than alcohol, and our laws should reflect that.”

Massachusetts: ACLU Win Protects Thousands In Cases From Drug Lab Scandal

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State High Court Ruling Provides Safe Harbor for Those Who Challenge Wrongful Convictions Based on Tainted Evidence from the Hinton State Drug Lab

The highest court in Massachusetts on Monday provided a safe harbor for thousands of people with tainted convictions stemming from Annie Dookhan's misconduct at the Hinton state drug lab.

In a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project, and Foley Hoag LLP on behalf of three individuals affected by the lab scandal, the Supreme Judicial Court issued a sweeping defense of due process, ruling that people may challenge their wrongful convictions without fear of retaliation by prosecutors.

"Today's decision is a profound victory for tens of thousands of people who were denied due process by misconduct at the Hinton Lab, and for anyone who has a stake in the integrity of the Commonwealth's criminal justice system," said Matthew R. Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. "For years, many of Annie Dookhan's victims have worried that challenging their tainted convictions could subject them to even harsher convictions and sentences.

"Many others did not even know that they could challenge their convictions in court, because public officials neither identified all of Dookhan's cases nor directly notified her victims," Segal said. "In a sense, many people did not know how to find the courthouse doors, and many others were too afraid to knock.

Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana Rules Dramatically Overhauled

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts health authorities on Friday moved to dramatically overhaul the license granting process for medical marijuana dispensaries, hoping to streamline the process and remove subjectivity and politics.

Regulators from Governor Charlie Baker's administration said the new process gets rid of the secrecy they claimed was prevalent under former Governor Deval Patrick's administration, reports Kay Lazar at The Boston Globe. Controversay about the previous system of licensure inspired more than two dozen lawsuits.

Massachusetts patients still have no safe access at dispensaries, two and a half years after voters approved medicinal cannabis. Fifteen dispensaries have already been licensed, but none has opened.

“This change creates a more streamlined, efficient, and transparent process that allows the Commonwealth to maintain the highest standards of both public safety and accessibility,” said Dr. Monica Bharel, the state’s public health commissioner.

Under the new guidelines, dispensaries will be licensed similarly to other health care facilities such as pharmacies. Each application will be judged using clear guidelines and will move forward when the applying company meets the overhauled standards, according to officials. The old system involved scoring, essentially pitting applicants against each other.

Australia: Medical Marijuana Set For National Clinical Trial

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government has thrown its support behind a clinical trial of medical marijuana, with New South Wales Premier Mike Baird revealing that a deal was struck at Friday's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

NSW will lead the collaborative, national trial, with the support of the Commonwealth and other states and territories, reports Simon Thomsen at Business Insider.

The health ministers discussed medicinal cannabis at their meeting, but underlined their continued opposition to the recreational use and legalization of marijuana, claiming it is linked to mental illness.

Premier Baird last month announced that the NSW government had formed a working group to set up the clinical trial, due to report back at the end of this year. "A NSW working group is already driving this reform and we welcome the support of the Commonwealth and the states and territories for the conduct of the trial," Baird said.

“NSW is playing a leadership role but our historic agreement to work collaboratively on this significant issue means we have a far greater chance of success,” Baird said.

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